tv Witness LINKTV March 21, 2013 9:00am-9:30am PDT
the big game in the world is the movies. it's the biggest game. it always has been the biggest game. television is the exact opposite. it's a postage stamp and it has to draw you in. there's no question that this is the age of images and it became that way because of television. and the movies, of course, have to deal with that. i think we're on the verge of a media revolution comparable to the arrival of television itself. annenberg media ♪ and: with additional funding from these foundations and individuals:
and by: and the annual financial support of: hello, i'm john lithgow. welcome to "american cinema." in 1946, hollywood didn't think a tv screen only inches in size could ever compete with a theatre screen 30 feet wide. movies were king. television was a novelty developed by radio industry. barely 6,000 sets were in use across the entire country.
by 1951, it was a new world and television was a part of it. movie theatres were closing in waves, 55 in new york alone. to make matters worse, hollywood was coming apart. anti-trust action dismantled the entire studio system. the monopoly of the movies was over. hollywood's reaction to tv was like one of its plot lines. at first denial, then feeling threatened, followed by fierce competition until embracing the adversary. yet it was television that produced a new generation of movie directors that told stories in new ways, with movies like "the manchurian candidate," "bonnie and clyde," and "mash." the studios didn't disappear; they adapted. and so did the movies. today, we are on the verge of another revolution, as a whole new range of digital technologies will change both the business and style of motion pictures. in this program, narrated by cliff robertson,
we will see some surprises as tv collided with the movies in "film in the television age." ♪ just friends ♪ lovers no more ♪ just friends ♪ but not like before ♪ film... tv. one is reverential, the other is "i'm dominating." (charles champlin) the whole story of movies in the last 40 years is the competitive fight with television, the movies responding to what tv does do or doesn't do,
can't do, and so on. i don't think it's been a struggle at all. i think there's been a complete symbiosis. i think they are mutually dependent. i think they are coming closer and closer together. i don't think it's a struggle at all. (robert altman) any film i've made has been seen by more people on tv than it ever has in cinema. but i don't think it makes any difference. eventually, every house will have a 6- to 8-foot screen and you sit 10 feet away from an 8-foot screen, you just as well be in the front at the ziegfield. (music playing) ladies and gentlemen, the break in our motion picture is made out of respect for the tv fans in our audience who are accustomed to constant interruptions in their programs for messages from sponsors. tv is a remarkable invention. where'd you go? oh, there you are. hi. (music playing)
(narrator) in 1946, america's romance with the movies peaked. over half of our population, 90 million a week, were filling theatres. (charles champlin) moviegoing was a national habit. you went automatically because, theoretically, all films were, as we would now say, rated "g." there was nothing in any movie that was presumably disturbing to the least sophisticated member of the audience. some might bore part of the audience, but otherwise, we just went all the time. (narrator) though americans didn't know it their exclusive love affair with the movies was about to end. the same year that movie attendance peaked, the television networks began daily broadcasts from new york. the competition between motion pictures and television would transform expectations, revolutionize hollywood, and usher in a new generatn of film directors
trained in the television mediu i had a job lined up as an assistant to john ford. he had to go into the hospital and have cataract operations, and he told me that, "look, i don't know when i'm going to be functioning again. and, if i were you, as a young guy today, what i would try and do is to get into television." (arthur penn) it was so unknown as a medium, we were sort of inventing it as we went along. and that was both the thrill and the excitement and part of the danger of it, very considerable danger. (sidney lumet) try to imagine what the scale meant. a 17-inch piece of glass was a large television set. they were 12-inch glass pieces, what they used to call, "14 inches diagonally."
the reduced dramatic material to that kind of size, as opposed to movies, which had a 40-foot image, it was absolutely a new form. (narrator) the early networks borrowed heavily from the new york theatre to create dramas, broadcast live across the nation. changing characters and stories from week to week, these fast-paced collaborations produced some of america's best-known writers, directors, and actors. (peter falk) live television did have the same tension you uldn't stoit. as the theatre did in the sense that once srted, you got the same butterflies, the same nervousness about it there used to be three cameras and the one with the red light was the one that was on. now there wasn't an actor alive that wasn't sneakin' looks
to see which one was on. "am i on?" "and if i'm not, why not?" it had hideous technical difficulties. you were always having, when you were acting, to step over great big cables and boxes and run around fast to enter another thing, and it was live. so you did get sort of an idea that you could do anything. and it took a certain kind of nerve of steel to do live television because you never knew when the cameras were going to break down on the air, which happened really more frequently than not. it was madness in that you had so little time. (delbe mann) you'd finish the show 10:00 on sunday night, come in the next morning, pick next week's script. stagg and acti rehearsals monday, tuesday, wednesday. on thursday, the producer would arrive. and at that time i already had to have the shot list,
the camera moves, the camera cabling. saturday we blked the show on camera. sunday we'd come in at noon, pick up the blocking, do a one run-through rehearsal, and you're on the air at 9:00. the show was done from beginning to end l-i-v-e. so the audience was able to cope with the mistakes, and the perspiration dripping off the actor's nose. it's kind of like an audience sitting in theatre, so it had a kind of excitement. not a bad crowd tonight. there was a girl in a black dress wearing beads. the only thing that was wrong, she's a little too tall for me. hey, there's a nice-lookin' short one for you down there. what we would get is a series of domestic dramas broadcast into american living rooms. and i think it's not an accident. it's as if one living room meets another living room. i don't wanna go to the waverly ballroom.
they stand around, make me feel like i'm a bug. i got feelings, too, no, thank you. marty! (marty) i'm going to stay home and watch sid caesar. you goin' to die without a son! so then i... i will die without a son. marty, put on the blue suit. i'm a fat little man, a fat, ugly little man! (sidney lumet) you were coming to their homes. this is a new experience in the history of entertainment and i don't know whether we know its significance yet. (charles champlin) it was a time of terrifying transition. television was taking hold, the graph of television sets and uses climbing like this, and the graph of attendance was going like that. (music playing)
(clicking of movie projector coming to a stop) hey, that was a good movie. yeah, seen it here bore once. well, s'long, miss mosey. sorry you're closin' the show. nobody wants to come to shows no more. got baseball in the summer, television all the time. won't be much to do in town with the picture show closed. yeah. (charles champlin) hollywood was in a very peculiar period then. you had a curious hesitation of leadership in the industry, and i think they didn't quite know how to cope with tv. (upbeat music playing) (jonas rosenfield) when i was at 20th century fox, we developed the theme "movies are better than ever," we went around to promote that to the exhibitors, the industry and to the public. we had trailers on the screen telling them all the pictures that were coming and so on and so forth.
it was an attempt to utilize publicity to fight what was a major technological change. (narrator) hollywood turned to gimmicks, each more and more outlandish. 3-d, smellovision, psychorama. (gene siskel) it was a carny show in effect. there was the impulse that we must offer sometng that they can't get at home, and one of the things would be to widen out. that was triggered by television. (announcer) ladies and gentlemen, this is cinerama. (screams in the background) (charles champlin) cinerama has 3 projectors, wonderful effects.
i mean you really did get a 3-d effect on a 2-d screen, (screams in the background) but it was just too cumbersome and you had wavering lines where the images met and it was wonderful novelty, but it just wasn't going to do it. (sound effects as doors slide open) (narrator) although it failed to catch on, it led to new widescreen forms. this motion picture was photographed in the grandeur of cinemasco and gorgeous life-like color. this motion picture (single musical note) gorgeous life-like color by delux (music playi) (jonas rosenfield) imagine, in seember of 1953, the impact of this huge image
on the audiences which attended the showing of the first of the cinemascope pictures. studios were quick to realize that cinemascope offered one of the solutions to the fight against television and forever committed motion pictures to widescreens. (gene siskel) movies always offered a chance to go someplace you can't go. tv wasn't going to present something of that scale then. this kind of lavish spectacle was the kind of thing that was being attempted in response to tv in the 1950s. (jesus from cross) father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (lightni strikes) (sad music playing) (sidney lumet) it's overwhelming.
i like the screen to just fill everything. television is the exact opposite. it's a postage stamp and it has to draw you in. this is where we'll kill 'em. you're kiddin'? i'm not kiddin'. hey, frankie, this is where live. you an' me in this house and baby next door. you an' mend baby makethis is the place. i don't know when we'll do it, but it's gonna be here. nobody believed we worked in our own backyard ... (sidney lumet) kitchen sink dma is what we all spealized in. what it really meant was a small set, because our studio facilities and our budgets were tiny. but what it showed was that a television show is capable of having real depth and moving people enormously.
i wouldn't ask you to drink with me. and i control it -- you can't control it. we're alcoholics. i'm not! yes, you are! you and i were a couple of bums on a sea of booze. only i got something to keep me from going under. i'm not gonna let go, if you want, grab hold, but there's only room for you an' me, no threesome! (john frankenheimer) we had great writers working in television, like paddy chayevsky, rod serling, j.p. miller. somebody asked me once, "well, why were you guys able to do all that good stuff on television then compared to what they do on television now?" i think the answer is then most people didn't have tv's. (narrator) by 1956, over two-thirds of american households had at least one television set. with this explosive growth came a change in program style. i know. television's a menace to the american family.
people no longer eat together, think together, talk together. they just watch tv together. and you don't think that's right? gee, mom, i think pop's all wet. a tv family is a happy family. suddenly everybody became aware tv had produced a huge audience and with that came the guys in the grey suits. (arthur penn) and they began to say, "wait a minute. if we're sponsoring this, they can't say this" or "they can't say that." and that was the beginning of the exodus for all of us from serious live television. (narrator) the rise of network television gave moviemakers a new chance. with moviettendance at half the level of a decade before, hollywood saw a chance to counter its own decline producing programs directly for this new medium. (todd gitlin) studios turned television into an assembly-line product.
it did that by building a set, using it on 39 episodes a year. they had a regular cast. the division of labor was very precise. the turnaround time on episodes was very brief. now, of course, the studios had always done that. let's not romanticize the old studio set-up, but here the formulas were even more confining because week after week "the phil silvers show" or "ozzie and harriet" had to be recognizably the same. (announcer) "ozzie and harriet" starring the entire nelson family ozzie, harriet, david and rickie. hello. i'm mister ed. (narrator) these weekly television series, shot on film, marked the end of the era of live television. (sidney lumet) you've got filmed television. so the result is you've got the worst both mediums. you don't have time and care that you can put into a movie and you don't have the thrill and adventure and completion of seeing the entire piece at once.
(narrator) while much of hollywood turned to television, studio directors responded with more sumptuous cinema fare. (romantic music playing) (todd gitl) well, the movies then tried to deliver what tv couldn't... big stars. big screen, big sound, big effects ... big. (narrator) grand epics and larger-than-life melodramas by directors like douglas sirk infused classic filmmaking with a lushness rarely seen before. (loud music with percussions playing)
(loud music with percussions playing) (finale of music) i guess i carecognize pain a mile off, you know. all my brothers and sisters, they're always tellin' me what a good-hearted guy i am. you don't get to be good-hearted by accident. you gotta be kicked around long enough ... (narrator) at the other extreme, in '55, united artists released a film version of "marty." they're always tellin' me what a good-hearted guy i am. you don't get to be good-heaed by accident. you get kicked aroun' long enough and you get to be a real professorf pain. i know exactly h you feel. and i also want ha to know i'm havi a very good time with you right now and really enjoyin' myself.
you see, you're not such a dog as you think you are. the ability of feature pictures to deal with the intimacy, like "marty" did have an impact on hollywood filmmaking, being the fact that it won the oscar. what do you feel like doin' tonight? i don't know, ang'. what do you feel like doin'? we ought to do somethin', it's saturday night. hollywood always needed new talent and i think that these men had begun to have reputations. frankenheimer, with all his working on "playhouse 90," and the emmys he was getting, was suddenly a hot property. i turned down a lot of movies. it was only until live television stopped being. (john frankenheimre) due to the invention of tape and changes in management it became necessary to go into film. (arthur penn) we weren't landed gentry.
we weren't part of the hollywood establishment. we were these nuts from new york mostly, and kind of crazy because the live tv experience had made us a little fearless, a little unorthodox certainly. the big game in the world is the movies. it's theiggest game. it's always been the biggest. so when television director gets a chance to make a feature, they're going to go flat out. (jazz music playing) (gene siskel) they were determined to break with the patterns and genres. they would make revisionist detective stories, revisionist westerns. they thought they could do something fresh. (narrator) frankenheimer, cassavetes, lumet, penn and tv directors now began to make feature films.
the intensity and innovation that characterized their work on television challenged conventional filmmaking, leading to the most important films of the next decade. you can imagine getting out to a place like hollywood, where everything is very tightly proscribed. a director does this. a first assistant does that. i didn't know, for instance, i was supposed to say "action." (woman moaning) (ahur penn) it's a combination ofwhat il the irrerence of television and technique of fm. (wom (arthur penn) wouldn't it be wonderful if you put a camera on a little hydraulic lift in the middle of the floor and we panned it 360 degrees and then as e me forward
toward the camera and fell, there was her face. poverty and naivete are very good ys of making some interesting movies. (arthur penn) after the success of "the miracle worker," i was able to say, "i want to make certain films, and they will be very low-budget films, but i don't want to have to explain the movie to you." and so that's what i did. (man) read it. (woman) but why is his shirt on inside-out? (man) open it, read it. (warren beatty) "dear lois... " (woman) mickey! (man) lois! (man) they're sending their reports to the secretaries now? give the bea a quiet ushing? (man) the what? who sent you here? (woman) why is his shirt on inside-out? (man) shut up with his shirt. get him outta here! but , agai was an idea of breaking the story orthodox getting into another kind of narrative form.
it's a character study, it's a character study, and it ultimately a character study, okay? anif you wait fosomething to be ultimately resolved, it's not that kind of movie. and that's rreshing. it's also tremely frustrating for a mainstream audience. and ringing sound)(things fg it was the first of that series the only one of that series, because they didn't want to honor the contract after that. they thought that was too crazy a film. and it probably was. (scary music playing) (narrator) like penn, john frankenheimer alternated between mainstream
and more innovative features. in 1966 he directed "seconds." (john frankenheimer) "seconds" was a weird movie. there's quite a bit of editing in that rst section to show emotion and tension. bop-bop-bop. that kind of thing to really jar the audience. kind of like slapping them in the face. (scary music playing) we always tried to stretch the medium. and we found ways to make things work. i mean, we didn't think, "my god, we can't do this." it was always the opposite, "how can we do this?" and we did it. (man in tv) i am a united states senator. i have a question so serious that the safety of our nation may well depend on your answer.
(john frankenheimer) the tv image was actually done by a television camera shooting him at the same time we shot the film camera. television plays an important part in that movie. politicians use television. the media is powerful. television bores right into your very existence. he made television virtually a character. if you remember the film, which was a long time ago, we all see them again and again through cassettes and so on, everything as being watched on television was a crude form of television monitoring. (charles champlin) but so much of the action existed on television screens. everyone remarked about it, its technological ingenious. my dear girl, have you noticed that the human race is divided into two distinct and irreconcilable groups? those who walk into rooms and automatically turn tv's on and those who walk into rooms and automatically turn 'em off.
♪ living color ♪ panoramic sound ♪ rca victor, the color tv ♪ that capture the picture ♪ that capture the sound ♪ rca victor ♪ the color tv ♪ living color through ♪ an ever big screen ♪ (narrator) by 1960, 90% of american homes had television sets. the average person watched 5 hours of programming a day. ♪ living color ♪ panoramic sound my study of history has convinced me every strong, healthy society from the egyptians on, the mass had to be guided with a strong hand by a responsible elite. let us not forget that in tv we have the greatest instrument for mass persuasion in the history of the world. on the high end of the movie business, among the people who had had serious ambitions within movies like elia kazan, tv was seen as the menace, as the creature from the black lagoon,
as the great dumb-out. (todd gitlin) and "face in the crowd" carries out that fantasy. ♪ oh, vitajex! ♪ vitajex ♪ what you do to me! ♪ vitajex ♪ whayou do to me ♪ (announcer) keep your eye on that rating. ♪ vitajex puts a gleam ♪ in your eye ♪ (audience yelling in unison) (haskell wexler) the demand of television reaches through that glass tube and holds you there for the commercial. the demand of theatrical traditionally was different... darkened room, screen, asking for involvement, asking for the audience to discover things. (charles champlin) television had stolen the mass audience.